Records (2008): Packers 6-10, Bears 9-7
When: 7:20 p.m. Central
Where: Lambeau Field
The line: Packers by 1
A prime-time audience will witness a new chapter in this storied Packers-Bears rivalry with two young quarterbacks taking center stage. Both teams are hungry to re-establish themselves as contenders, with the Packers only a 6-10 slip since their previous playoff appearance and the Bears two years removed from their last postseason trip.
Preseason prognostications have, depending on the outlet, the Packers and Bears reaching the Super Bowl, so the hype surrounding this matchup is immense.
Why the Packers will win
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have to show that he can continue his development from last year, when he threw for 4,038 yards and 28 touchdowns with 13 interceptions, and be an efficient manager of Mike McCarthy's version of the West Coast offense.
Also, running back Ryan Grant must return to the type of production he had two years ago, when he average 5.1 yards per carry and scored eight touchdowns as part of his 956-yard season. Last year, Grant amassed 1,203 yards in his first full season as the starter, but he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry and scored only four TDs.
Why the Packers will lose
The transition to the 3-4 defense goes very poorly and is shredded by ex-Broncos QB Jay Cutler and second-year running back Matt Forte.
While the Packers' offense returns virtually intact, with a little bit of shuffling on the line, the defense is really the unknown factor. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers was brought in to revamp what was a porous unit last year.
Players to watch
Offense: Jermichael Finley. Learn the name, folks. Pick him up for your fantasy team if he is available. Finley will be the new beast of the tight end position if this preseason was any indication.
Defense: Aaron Kampman. The Pro Bowl defensive end is now playing outside linebacker. He entered this transition as a not-so-happy camper, but with the defense forcing 13 turnovers in the first three games and looking impressive, Kampman could be a star at his new position.
The new defense is supposed to solve the problem of winning close games (the Packers lost seven games by four points or less last year) and with the Bears' offense still without a viable No. 1 receiver, the Packers will start off on the right foot. Packers 27, Bears 14
About the Author
Written by Steve Drumwright